Implantation of a cochlear implant often causes damage to the cochlear walls, the scala tympani, and other cochlear structures. This damage results in additional hearing loss to cochlear implant recipients, who already have significant hearing loss.
University of Utah researchers have developed a method for implanting a cochlear implant while minimizing the collateral damage of the surgery. To do this, a small magnet is integrated into the tip of the cochlear implant. Another magnet is mounted to an actuator which is placed near the patient’s head. The actuator can be precision-controlled to move the magnet on the cochlear implant in the desired direction. The direction of the movement of the cochlear implant can be easily and precisely changed by rotating the actuator the desired amount. Using a combination of actuator movement and rotation, the cochlear implant is slowly and precisely “pulled” into place without causing damage to surrounding tissues. Once it is placed, the actuator is removed and the implant stays in place.